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This is Ken Lockwood, standing nose to beak with Gracie, a Golden Eagle.
She was shot in Western Kansas. Her humerus, the largest wing bone and the one closest to the body, was broken in three places. Somehow she managed to live on the ground long enough for the bone to calcify, which would have been about three weeks, before she was found. She was taken to Ken’s center, where she was gentle and cooperative. “Right from the beginning, she never tried to hurt me, ” says Ken. She could fly, but not well enough to live in the wild. Had she been aggressive and/or badly stressed by captivity, Ken would have taken her to Kansas State University, where veterinarians might have been able to re-break her bone, shave off the extra calcium, and pin her wing with metal rods until it healed correctly. It would have been a long and painful process, though, and considering her disposition, Ken didn’t want to put her through it.
She’s now an education bird, traveling to schools and clubs and fairs to spread the word about wildlife. People gasp when they see how big and beautiful she is, and gasp again when they learn someone shot her out of the air. Occasionally people criticize wildlife rehabilitators, saying what we do is a drop in the bucket. But of all the people who have been awed by Gracie, how many might have mentioned her to a crazy friend who tends to pull the trigger when he sees a big, dark silhouette? Because of what wildlife rehabilitators do and the environmental education we provide, how many birds who might have ended up like Gracie are still soaring through the skies?
Ken is the Director of the Eagle Valley Raptor Center in Cheney, Kansas. Please take a look at his great website and beautiful birds:
or contact RaptorCare@aol.com
Both photos by Eagle Valley Raptor Center